Worry, Focus, and Other’s Worry

Well. I was gonna write about something else, but then something happened to derail that. Which is why I’m writing about worry, because that affected me most imminently and directly. So, let’s get to it!

My family has been having monetary struggles. I’ve been praying about it along with some other stuff, but I got kind of thrown off tonight. Three things I try to pray for fairly regularly is healing for my brother (he’s special needs, think baby in a fifteen-year-old body with a fifteen-year-olds strength and lots of health issues), healing for a friend (she has a chronic illness), and support for my family as they deal with my brother and money and anything and everything else (especially since my brother has/will go through several surgeries recently). Today, something happened (I won’t say what) that put a good strain on us. It included another cost and a lot of strain, especially on my dad. And when dad’s not happy, no one is. And I was sitting in the house, worrying and praying.

We hear it so often. “Don’t worry,” they say, “the Bible says that God will take care of you.” It’s heard so often I usually ignore it. I haven’t had to deal much with struggles along those lines, so that didn’t help it sink in. But today, I looked up the verses about worry. I know all the blabber, but I needed to be able to calm down and let the Bible help me give that worry to God. Situations like what happened are some of the worst for me; it’s when I most need alone time to go and think and calm down and I can’t because I have to take some of the burden from my parents. It’s when I’m so worried that I have a hard time breathing and kinda want to cry and I can’t because I don’t cry in front of others if I can help it. So, when I was dismissed to go watch the food, I looked up those verses on my phone. I won’t spout all the stuff you’ve heard before. If you want help with worrying, don’t listen to a person, just read the verses yourself. The Bible holds power humans just don’t.

This whole situation, however, also had me thinking about focus. I was worried, but my first thought was to pray, and then I kept praying. I was trying to focus not on the problem, but on who could fix it. That also sounds somewhat cliché, which I’m not a fan of, but it’s the truth. When I get worried about something, the first thing I need to do is pray. God says pray about everything, so it goes double to pray when there’s trouble. Once we focus on God – and when we dwell in Him – our troubles start being solved. Generally because God either solves them or provides a way or wisdom to solve them. So while money is still an issue for my family, I will continue to pray about it.

The last thing is about other’s worry, not my own. I mentioned above that the situation was one where I had to stay to help my parents. I feel pressure in these sorts of situations, but the pressure that my parents feel must be so much worse. “I am just really struggling”. They don’t say it often, but that often describes some point in their daily lives where everything is just coming down and they are so. worn. out. I worry, but I am able to deal with it. They can confide in each other, but they don’t fully – or even mostly – confide in either myself or others. I get bits and pieces, and others get bits and pieces. But my parents largely bear their burden alone. And even so, we’re lucky – we have a house, and food, and medical care. We have great friends. My friend, the one I call a sister, gets my brother off of the bus and helps my parents out fairly regularly. She’s also usually game to help watch the boys (I also have a six year old brother called Mr. Energy) and actually enjoys cleaning, which she will also do. She bails us out often. Our family, though they live a ways away (the nearest family member is 45 min away), also helps out a ton. We are so blessed, but how can my parents get away from the wear and tear of everyday life? They get a full day off usually only once a year, on their anniversary. I worry about their worry!

Which leads me to my main thought for the day. I pray about my parents. I pray about their stress, their worry, their health. I pray about their faith. I pray for my brother – I know how hard it is to deal with my parents when they’re majorly stressed. I pray, because God is the only way they can survive day-to-day. I can’t support my parents as much as I’d like to. They won’t let me, and quite honestly that level of commitment scares me. To have to put someone else’s needs before your own and let them dictate every second of your daily life…my parents can’t even just drop my brother off with someone and take a break because of his needs. How often do we pray for the people close to us? How often do we pray for people we aren’t even sure need it? How often do we pray for people who struggle under a daily burden? That’s a big one – so often we see the burden but don’t pray for it because it’s a part of daily life. I wonder – who else is praying for my parents? Who else is praying for their strength and serenity? Who else is praying for their life in general? What about you? Who else can you pray for? Worry is elusive. It tries to creep up on us quickly. Sometimes it’s like a smack in the face, sometimes it’s like a tickle or an itch you can’t scratch. The Bible tells us to take one day at a time. Foresight is important, but we are supposed to dwell in today. Overcome today’s obstacle, and pray for other’s. I very easily feel others pain, but that should just mean that I pray more. What about you?

Anger, Frustration, and Wrath

Hey guys. This is something that has impacted me a lot, so I kinda wanted to write about it The name says it all; I’m talking about anger, wrath, and frustration in Christians.

Here is what the Bible says about it:

  • But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Colossians 3:8
  • Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. Psalms 37:8
  • Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
  • Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
    Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Galatians 5:19-20
  • Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
    Neither give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27
  • For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one. Job 5:2
  • The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath. Proverbs 11:23
  • A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife. Proverbs 15:18
  • Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. Psalms 90:11
  • Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9
  • And more…

The Bible makes it clear: wrath is not the fruit of the spirit but the fruit of the flesh. Let me ask you something – if you saw someone standing on the corner screaming at someone, or even just obviously angry, would you think they were Christian? No. You would immediately be saddened by their separation from God. This is so important, and so often overlooked. When you get angry bad things happen. How many times have we heard of broken people who got angry and couldn’t stop themselves from hitting their spouse? How many times have we heard of someone pushing someone else in anger, leading to the other’s injury or death? And what about the fear? To be screamed at? To be afraid of being pushed out of the way simply because you’re not moving quickly enough? What if you were on the streets? Wrath and anger do not show God. They have their place – God has gotten angry, and he’s shown his wrath many times. But his anger is holy, as is his wrath. We can let him deal with that; it has no place in us. So often we focus on other sins – adultery, murder, heart problems of any sort, etc. – but when was the last time you heard a sermon about anger? It’s a difficult topic. Not many want to hear it, and how exactly do you go about it? But this is so, so important. Being wrathful or angry doesn’t necessarily mean there is abuse – but it can mean fear. It can mean fear for your spouse, your kids, your friends, the people around you. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want to be afraid of the people I love.

So, I don’t have some stunning – or even mediocre – revelation about this. But please – if you know you struggle with anger, don’t leave it alone. It’s just like any other sin: it’s an addiction, and you need to be held accountable. Talk it over with a friend or a pastor. Yes, you’re a broken person asking for help. News flash: so is every. single. person. around you. If they don’t think so, it’s probably pride. You never know what secrets someone is hiding and afraid to let out. You do, however, know you aren’t alone. God doesn’t say “He’s angry, he doesn’t need my help.” He says, “My beautiful child, let me help. Let me give you strength to follow me. Let me carry your burdens.” God’s got your back.

P.S., this applies to girls too. It’s not gender-exclusive.

 

Also, since I didn’t mention frustration specifically above, I’ll mention it here. Frustration can lead to all sorts of problems. Frustration is the beginning sign of a heart problem, and it’s a good indicator to take preventative measures. Take a deep breath. For good or for worse, you aren’t dead yet.

Females Today, Part 2

 

Refresher: the last post was about makeup and how it can affect and control girls. It was also my “series” intro (this “series” may only be 2 parts) about how 1) girls view themselves and 2) how society views them. This post will be about the latter. Where do I even start?

Sometimes Facebook is okay. It can be a good source to learn random information and offers a way to connect with friends and family. However, so often I see posts or memes (I’m not sure what they’d be called) that are not okay. And what makes me mad the most are those posts/memes/whatevers on a plain white background with the cartoonish figure on them – usually a sassy girl with brown hair, although she has a variety of expressions and other characters sometimes take her place. Those things really irritate me, because they spread so many lies and negativity and everything else. So below, I’m going to list a few and an abbreviated version of what their message says to me:

“I don’t care how complicated this gets, I still want you” – You are so important you’re becoming the focus of my life instead of friends or family (or God)

“Stalking my posts won’t tell you anything. I could post “I’m so upset” and be talking about how someone ate the last of the mac and cheese” – Apparently I have nothing better to do or anything more important to worry about than mac and cheese and I’m not speaking anything valuable into the world (I apologize a little for that one, it sounds harsh and I’m not trying to be mean, but for so many people that really is all they worry about. Having fun with something is fine, but it shouldn’t be so important)

“You think you’re hot but you’re just room temperature” – Anybody sound jealous? Apparently I get to decide whether or not you look good and what exactly your attitude and actions and words mean. Because apparently I know you better than you do.

“When he thinks you’re crazy but he has no idea how much” – Now it’s okay to be crazy and not act like a decent human being? And it’s even applauded!?

“Don’t make me pretend to know karate on you” – Because why? You like drama?

“When you accidentally pour too much alcohol into your mixed drink but you have to tough it up because momma didn’t raise a quitter” – Hopefully doesn’t apply to Christians, but moral: peer pressure tops wise decisions.

“Hello it’s me…I was wondering if I could get a grade above a C” – Sure – go study. If you already are, you probably aren’t asking this question.

“It takes the right guy to show you how wrong the douchebag was” – Number 1, if you’re Christian (or smart), hopefully you didn’t get so involved with a douchebag that he hurt you so bad you remember it and it affects you so much years later (waaayyy too much power). But okay, things happen. So now…there’s comparison. And a focus on dating. And mentally putting someone else down. And putting someone else on a pedestal of expectations.

Now, I realise I just stepped on some (or a lot of) toes. And in some instances, these can be taken as jokes with a friend. But largely? If they have these seperate posts, it means they’re mainstream. And not all of these posts are directed at girls…a lot of them are supposed to represent girls, or represent an idea that would apply. You see so much of this. About how crazy girls are, about their clever revenge for cheating boyfriends, about how fickle they are. There’s a post that describes a conversation between a girl and santa where it’s implied that getting a unicorn is more realistic than getting a boyfriend. And this is the part I really want to focus on.

Lately there’s been a lot of flak about how guys objectify girls. While I agree it’s wrong, I also think that society is encouraging it even while it professes to be resisting it. Also, God made guys to be attracted to a girls’ body and he charged girls with dressing modestly(1 Timothy 2:8-10. The less you dress, the more you’re inviting yourself to be objectified. Objects don’t wear clothes for a reason. I’m not saying that guys don’t carry a lot of the blame too, but I think the girls’ role is underscored in society (1 Corinthinans 10:32)(Song of Songs/Soloman 7) because society isn’t following God and his commands. So now let me refocus briefly on a summary of how society perceives a woman.

They are expected to party, be crazy, and cheat. They are expected to focus on men and are seen as irrational and dramatic. They are expected to be selfish and lazy or powerhungry and driven. Or both. Today, society seems to have lost it’s ability to view woman with dignity. In fact society as a whole seems to have lost it’s dignity! What happened to the girls who were calm and collected, who cared for others and were softhearted. What happened to a girl who was modest and patiently waited for marriage and stuck with it through the hard times. What happened to girls who work hard and stand in the face of society and laugh in the face of peer pressure. What happened to those girls!?

In reality? They’re around us. They’re closer than we know. But how many of them have we lost because of society? When I think of the number of girls giving away their dignity, I imagine a field of fallen figures dressed in white, blood staining their clothes. The sky is overcast, and similarly dressed figures stand panting. They wear no armor. Their long hair flows down their back, and they hold swords in front of them. They’re panting, their breath steaming in the cold air as they prepare for the next battle…as they prepare for the next wave of monsters, unaware of their own poor existence and tricked into attacking and killing the girls by a force greater than them. And every once in a while, a subtle glow will fall like drifting rain onto a dark figure, and they will suddenly become aware, and under the consistent rain they will transform into a shining warrior eager to fight. Can you imagine? Society throws attacks at us everywhere we turn. That is why I cannot emphasize having godly friends enough – they give you strength, they empower you, and they don’t let you throw down your sword because you are weary. This is important. Eventually, one who fights alone will fall. Together, though, their power is multiplied.

One more thing, and consider it a/the (condensed) main idea. I mentioned the santa conversation above. That conversation is so degrading. It mocks and makes fun of girls who don’t have boyfriends, as though that gives them their worth. This is scattered all over the place. Every time someone makes a joke about being single, they’re making fun of themselves and essentially putting themselves down. The same with food being all-important. All these girls are trying to say “I’m independent, ha! Look at me!” But in reality they’re whispering “Yes, look at me. I’m worth it. I’m different. Give me a chance, please. Give me my worth, either by accepting you or denying you. Give me power to build my identity.” That’s sad. That is so unbelievably sad, and it doesn’t just happen with boys.

Finishing thoughts. I know there are exceptions to all of this, but look at the heart of my message, please. Try to understand. I know stuff happens. I know life suckerpunches all of us and I know we stumble and fall sometimes. I know we slip into stuff without realizing it sometimes. This isn’t about those sometimes. This is about those people who don’t even realize what they’re doing or who can’t stop. This is about the people so entrapped by society’s lies that they can’t get out. We need to help these people. We need to bring our fallen comrades back to life. Death is the only too late. It’s never too late until death.

Females Today, Part 1

I know what you’re thinking. Maybe. Oh joy, some more stuff about females. Wonderful. However, I’d appreciate it if you just read for a little bit. There are two things I want to discuss in this post series: society’s view of females and females’ view of females. I’ll start with the latter.

I am female. I am a teenaged girl and, as snarky and possibly stuck-up as it sounds, I am different. I only have one social media – Facebook – and I don’t want anymore. I just learned how to put on eyeshadow and blush this past summer, and it wasn’t because my parents were trying to keep me away from it. I have purposely avoided learning make up until then, and it was actually my mom who wanted me to learn this past summer. I would’ve been content either never learning it or waiting. I’m not a naturally pretty girl – some days I’ll look pretty depending on what I’m wearing and how I do my hair. I have very strong features. I say this factually – I don’t have a low self-esteem about my looks; it’s a fact and I think it would be more dangerous to lie to myself. My looks don’t matter anyway and if somebody doesn’t like them they can go jump in a lake. So now let me tell you why I avoided makeup. Throughout my life, my dad has told me this super irritating refrain whenever I say “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”. He would respond with “But did you mean not to?” He wanted me to get this idea of purpose – not just passively sitting by but actively moving for a purpose. And unknowingly, I applied this idea to makeup.

The other day I heard someone tell a friend “I wouldn’t feel pretty today without it” speaking of makeup. That just sounded so extremely sad to me. That somebody – a young female teen around my own age – felt she needed makeup in order to look pretty, even for just one day. That she would feel ugly without it. I saw a meme or something on Facebook a few minutes ago that spoke to guys and told them if they wanted to be in a relationship they’d have to accept that there were going to be days their girlfriend would have a bad attitude because her eyeliner didn’t turn out right. What!? But the thing is, this idea is all over the place. This idea that all girls wear makeup and all girls are dependent on their makeup and all girls care about their makeup. But why? I purposely avoided learning makeup because I didn’t want to be one of those girls. I didn’t want to rely on makeup to feel good about myself and feel pretty. And I don’t. Makeup is like a bubblebath to me; it’s something to wear when I feel like putting a little extra into myself that day. Or sometimes I just like to play with the colors. But everywhere around me there are girls who care so so much. They use face masks and hair products and everything under the sun. Why? Even Christian girls. God says that we are beautiful. My friend was talking to me about dying her hair one time because she didn’t like it’s color and my dad overheard. He told her “I don’t think you should do it. You know why? Because I think dying your hair because you don’t like it’s color is telling God you think he made a mistake.” That’s stuck with me. It wasn’t the action itself he had a problem with, it was the thought behind it. I don’t like my hair color; I would look better with x color hair. You know better than God? It’s similar with makeup – you don’t think you look pretty without makeup? News flash: if God thought we would be better with makeup on, he would have made us that way. Makeup does not define our worth. Going without makeup has it’s problems in today’s society, but let me tell you something else: I walk around more confidently when I’m not wearing makeup than when I am. I am comfortable in my own skin. I have acne and big eyebrows and strong features and a nose that might even be described as slightly bulbous, but I love myself.

So I have a challenge for you females reading this: For 1-2 months, go without makeup. Not completely – allow yourself makeup one day a week. And during those 1-2 months, surround yourself with friends and do fun stuff. Laugh and forget you don’t have makeup on. And when you go into the bathroom and see yourself without makeup, smile at the mirror – even if it’s forced – and focus on your eyes. Think about the fun times you’ve had and watch your eyes light up and see yourself without makeup. You can even pull in a friend to do it with you! (Please, please don’t do this without a good, supportive friend!) While you do this, read your bible every day and ask God to show you your beauty and ask him to use it to help someone else.

Taking action on your own starts the process, taking action with someone else keeps you accountable, and taking action for someone else takes the focus off of you.

One more thought: Whenever you get married – or if you are married – your husband will/does wake up next to you when you don’t have makeup on. He will not/does not love you for how you look with makeup on! If he does, then he needs to get something right with God.

Finals

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been a while (I say a while, it’s only been a couple of days). I need to make this brief. So, I didn’t post Monday or Tuesday because life and my bad memory kicked in (sorry). Guess what happened today? I found out – surprise! – that I have a physics test tomorrow! I heard the teacher say it, but apparently it never sunk in my brain. My first thought was shoot. My second thought was Lord, help me. I used to pray about tests a lot. At some point I must have stopped, I don’t know why. Now I’m trying to get back into it. Someone told me one time “We pray on tests, but why? It’s not like God is going to help you remember something you didn’t even pay attention to.” While that’s true to an extent, I firmly believe that God can and will bring a memory to mind or make it more clear – or, if nothing else, calm us down so we can remember. Someone asked why we ask God to bless our food – it’s not like he’ll increase the nutritional value. Maybe, maybe not. He did that for Daniel, didn’t he? Maybe he just helps things run smoother, but I definitely believe that he works on small things in our daily lives more than we know. So I’ll keep praying, ’cause I kinda need a B on that test. And I believe that God will help me. Oh – and did I mention that I have finals next week?

Late Night

Wow! I’m typing this really late tonight (it’s 2:00 AM where I am right now). I also still have an English assignment I have to type, but I can sleep in on Tuesday so it works out. If I’m tired tomorrow, it’s what I get for procrastinating and watching anime instead of doing homework! So here’s my day’s overview: I went to church, came back and ate, tried to do homework, fell asleep, woke up, tried to do homework, was invited to do homework in a friend’s room (psshh, we all know that doesn’t actually doesn’t happen), left to watch the anime episode that just came out today because it’s ongoing, was interrupted in the middle to go have dinner with said friends, came back, watched anime, did a tiny bit of homework during the opening song, etc., and I just finished the anime. Which is not ongoing. Grr! I want more! So, my thought for today will (sadly, I’m sure) be brief (probably not really).

In church today, the leader leading the lesson mentioned a challenge given out two weeks ago (I was not there, I was at home for Thanksgiving break). Apparently, this challenge was to talk to someone most people wouldn’t: a social outcast, if you will. I started thinking about it, but as hard as I tried I could not come up with a social outcast at my current school (which I spend most of the day in my room, so I don’t really know…). As far as I could tell, I’m the most “socially outcast” person in the school (I put it in parenthesis because it’s not to say I’m rejected but rather that I don’t have many friends). Which led me to another thought…my dad. Recently, just this past year, I really started noticing and thinking about my dad’s interactions with others. He has fun shaking hands with little kids, he’ll talk things over with teenagers, and he asks how adults are doing. He’s more introverted, like me (I’m DEFINITELY a daddy’s girl), but he will go out of his way to meet with others and ask how they’re doing. That includes teenagers too. He finds unique ways of bonding with people – I remember one “girl” (she might be out of college by now, I don’t know) in particular. I don’t even know her real name, but I know he calls/called her Francesca and she calls/called him Ralph. He does it with another dude too. So a couple months I asked him about it. I know where he got it from – I see my grandfather do it too when I’m at their church – but I was curious about when it started and some other stuff. He said – and this is the point I want to get at – that he made an effort to care about people. Let me elaborate a little – all this stuff I’ve been describing isn’t easy for him. He told me he kinda started when he was a teenager, just asking how people were. He’s the guy that goes out of his way to care. He does the little things. He listens. He takes the initiative. And people like him because they know cared. They know that it takes more effort to say that hello when you’ve had a bad morning. They know that he cares about them because it’s authentic. It’s not fake, it’s not passing – every week, I can guarantee you that he’s out in the crowd asking people how they’re doing and what’s up. And it’s this idea that is so much more important than I think we realize. I don’t have a bible verse on hand to support this. But we are commanded to show God’s love. What if we started caring? What if we started investing in others’ lives? What if we stopped thinking and started leading – with our hearts? I’m a shy individual, but if I feel comfortable with you then there are times I won’t shut up. My parents do not need to prod me to tell them about my day. They’re more likely to tell me to stop talking about it. But I don’t get close to people who never talk to me. It’s the ones who do talk to me, who take the time to say hi and then say it again. It’s not a one-time deal. I feel like guys have an easier time doing this than girls do. My dad, my grandfather, another dude at my church here – but I don’t think it’s just a guy thing. I think girls can do it too, if they bother to look at the person .You can come up to me five times to talk about make-up, but I won’t care less. If you came and talked to me about me, though…that’s another story. Sometimes, it’s better not to have a topic. It’s not enough to casually do it. You have to do it with purpose. I apologize for not using that term sooner, it would have saved some explaining. That phrase is really important. How often do we follow God with purpose? We try to work on any number of things, but how often does it have a purpose? If I had to guess at my dad’s purpose, I’d guess it to be forming a relationship with people so that they know he cares. Because then he can do so much from there, working through God’s power. Could I guess the purpose in what you’re doing?

Am I Rebellious?

Rebel. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear this word? Maybe it’s disgust (in which case, I advise you think about what God says about love). Maybe it’s that idea of a cool kid. You could imagine fear, terror, suppression, excitement, energy, life. But can we really think about this, just for a moment? In our world, the word rebel can have all of those meanings, or none of them. Being a rebel can be good – the apostles and Jesus himself were essentially rebels. But it can also be bad, like when a school kid flaunts the rules simply because they’re rules. But here is the difference – when you are rebelling against something, in order for it to be good it has to line up with God’s heart and will. If it doesn’t line up with his heart and will, it becomes rebelling in a bad way. While I could apply this to all sorts of situations in today’s world, I really wanted to talk about something else.

I just got back to my dorm room. I’ve been watching anime pretty much all day, and my Bible has been sitting beside me – open – all day. I got back from picking up supper, and this verse I skimmed yesterday popped out at me. Hosea 14:9, “The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” This kinda hit me. A few posts ago, I posted about a certain sin I struggle with. My first thought went to that, especially because I have failed in that recently (transparency, people). Then I started thinking more…in the post before that one, I had mentioned how I hadn’t really sat down with God recently.And you know what? To my shame, I still haven’t. So while I think about these things, I realize…am I being rebellious? I know all the blabber about how we’re human and of course we rebel, it’s natural. I covered this is an offhand way my second and third posts. If it’s mainstream, it doesn’t often affect me. Heard that, been there, moving on. And, as I mentioned in my third post, if I said that stuff I would be making excuses. So let me pound this into my brain for a few seconds: I am rebelling against my Lord, my God, and the one who saved my life every single time I don’t live in Him. Every single time! I’m not just failing, I am rebelling! And I can understand it. Before I failed last time, I could think stuff through. I knew I should direct my thoughts elsewhere. I felt like God was with me, almost a holy feeling, and I knew that if I did it anyway that feeling would go away. I purposely chose to disobey my Lord. How often do we do that? How often do we lie to ourselves about it? The old pastor of my church had a message once, probably when I was in sixth or seventh grade. He was asking people how many thought they were a good person, or okay. A lot of people raised their hands. Then he asked how many of us thought we were “bad” people – I don’t have a way to explain what he meant right now. There were much fewer hands raised, and mine was among them. It’s something I struggle with that causes me to pull away from God – the knowledge that I am an ugly sinner and I can’t seem to do anything about it. I know all the stuffing about how of course that’s true, we can’t wait until we’re good, that’s why God sent his Son – but it still kills me often. Then my pastor said something else – he said that those of us in the second group were…closer to God or something, I don’t actually remember. My hand shot down. I’ve always had this impression about people in the church that they’re better Christians than I am. I see someone obviously failing and I struggle with pride – in case that phrase alone didn’t tip you off – and I look around at others and feel like they’re on a level that I can never reach and that they’ll all be better Christians than me forever. Saying it now I think How stupid is that? but it’s still not something I’ve conquered. Maybe I never will. But how often do we lie to ourselves? How often do we say “I don’t struggle with that“? I can tell you, ’cause this applies to me to…if you’re saying that, you probably either do or will soon. I think of it like an invitation for satan to come mess that up, because if nothing else there’s pride at work there. It’s hard. Where do you say “I need to understand that I’m human and make mistakes” versus “I am rebelling against God”? How often do we look at people who do drugs and feel pity for them and thank God we’re Christian? Especially lately, I’ve been wondering…isn’t my sin like a drug? Maybe it’s better, maybe it’s worse but…one of the reasons it’s hard is because it feels like it helps me. It feels like it relieves stress. And, perhaps more importantly, is the other stuff. It satisfies cravings and desires and alleviates doubts and insecurities that I don’t know would be satisfied/alleviated otherwise. I have plenty of self-esteem. I know my own worth. But sometimes… We lie to ourselves. We rebel against God and lie to ourselves about it. We aren’t just failing no matter how it seems like it. We are rebelling. Actively rebelling. But now…think about how God must feel. Oh. My. Word. I know how frustrated I get and how much pain I feel when a younger child or a friend does something I told them not to because I was trying to protect them. How must God feel? We fail him every single day, and sometimes we don’t even realize it. And it’s not just one or two of us…it’s millions of us! I recently had my mom tell me that she didn’t think I had enough self-confidence for something, I forget what. I was confused. But her response…she wasn’t sure what else it could be. She felt that I put her and my best friend – the one I call a sister – down. Often. I don’t want to think about that. I don’t want to have to wonder if I do it. I thought I tried to go out of my way to avoid hurting the people I cared about. I’ve been working on holding my tongue. But now…how many times have I felt the tiniest, tiniest wiggle of unease as I mocked my mom in front of my grandparents? Telling myself I was teasing her? Which to an extent is fine, but…have I pushed it too far? I recently had a conversation with my friend where I admitted that – during a conversation she thought I was insulting her intelligence in – I had just realized I’d felt threatened by her desire to get in advanced classes because I had always been the smart one and she had always been the social one. She attracts people like moths to flame. But to think that I might have been putting them down

I don’t know. Have I been lying to myself? Just how rebellious have I been? I don’t even know. But I think, tonight, that I will be doing a lot more praying and thinking than I had originally planned.

Today

Today was pretty bland for the most part. It was another day of classes, another day dealing with my cold, and coming back to my dorm room and falling asleep. Then a friend came in and woke me up. She invited me to hang out with her and a couple others in the lounge, then they disappeared before I was ready. Seeing as how I had just woken up, I did not hear where they were going, so I just sat on the floor until she came back. In the lounge (it’s a small one for the floor’s use) they were setting up a movie to watch. It was an online set similar to Netflix as far as I could tell. I believe the title of the movie they settled on was “The Boy Next Door”. It was about a young man – seemingly very charming – who came to the area to help his grandfather when his grandfather got a bone marrow transplant. The story follows the mother next door who is having marital problems and has a young son (think high school). Bottom line, the dude (who is almost twenty, a senior) ends up stalking this teacher. Warning: there are at least two sex scenes and a flashback. I left before the movie was over.

So. What my mind first goes to when I think about this is that we, as Christians, are set apart. Psalm 4:3-4 “Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him. Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.Colossians 3:10 “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator.” Romans 12:12, 1 Peter 2:9, John 17:15-18, Ephesians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 6:19, and so many other verses that talk about how we are different. I watched about an hour of that movie. Do I think I should have left sooner? It wouldn’t have hurt. Could I have left later? Probably. But I chose to leave early because I did not need to watch that movie. It not only did nothing to help me, but it was an active voice of the devil in my life, particularly because of the sin I struggle with. So I left. And in doing so, I was setting myself apart. I’ve mentioned that I have a hard time making friends, and that sometimes means I’m lonely. Sometimes it often means that I’m lonely. If I had finished watching the movie, it’s possible I would have made a better connection with the other two people and become their friend as well. But something that I have already decided is that I will not let peer pressure or any personal desires negatively influence my walk with God. I’ve mentioned how my dad has been my mentor without me even realizing it. However, he is also my dad, and his primary job is to raise me to follow God. Maybe those two are one and the same; I don’t know. But something he has talked to me about a lot is determining things ahead of time. A very irritating phrase he often uses against me (or for me, but whatever) is “I know you didn’t mean to, but did you mean not to?” I have decided ahead of time that I am not going to watch movies with heavy sex content. I have decided I am not going to listen to music with any cuss words or bad themes…in fact, I try to only listen to Christian music. I have decided I am not going to have sex before marriage. I have decided I am not going to cuss and I will ask the people around me not to cuss. I have made decisions about these things ahead of time so that if something were to happen and I need to make a decision quickly, it’s already been made. We have been set apart. Sometimes that feels lonely. Sometimes you look around, and you think How can I be so alone? If you’re like me, there are times when you can’t help but observe how different you are. Different from the world, but also different from other Christians. There are times when I look around and I worry about making Christian friends in the future when I’m on my own. Being different can be tough. But we have to be different. If we aren’t different, then we aren’t showing Christ.

So if you want to, comment. Tell me about a time when you were different because of your faith. Ask me to pray about something. Or maybe just say hi.

Wisdom

So, today was interesting-ish. My group had to join up with another group in my physics lab. Since we only ever join one other group, that’s always fun. And of course, Spanish is ALWAYS awesome. Something different: today was Xxxxxxxx (no, that’s not the real name), so guys were able to come onto the girl’s floor if accompanied by a host. That was just my day. Nothing really interesting happened. But there is something today that connects with Wisdom. I do devotions through Youversion – aka plans – and I’ve been doing one on wisdom. This particular devotion has an attached video, and this video (series, one for each day of the devotion) follows a young girl as her parents leave her and her brother home alone for the first time. Quick note: I am only on day 2 of the 4-day devotion, but I watched the whole series today. One of the (very few) rules her mom lays down is no friends over. Can you guess what happens? Yep. The parents leave the house, the friend comes over, and it doesn’t take much convincing for the girl to let her friend in. And, predictably, a series of worsening disasters occurs. Neighbor’s special statue broken, wedding gift vase broken, class guinea pig let loose, brother’s weeks-long project ruined…and through it all, this friends mantra is “Oops, my bad”. The thing is, as all of this occurs the brother TRIES to get his sister to kick her friend out. But even as all these things happen – even as the friend continues to make bad choices, lead her in bad choices, and make a mess of EVERYTHING – still the girl doesn’t kick her friend out. She says “we can fix this” and she gets upset at a couple points, but the friend is always able to worm her way into staying just a little longer…until she hears the parents will be home in less than an hour, of course. And through it all, I’m thinking What? What is this girl thinking? She can see this happening. She knows what – or more specifically who – is causing this. Her brother is pressuring her to do the right thing. She KNOWS what the right thing is. What is she doing? I urge you to read Proverbs 2. It talks extensively about wisdom, but let me give you a summary. Wisdom will give you:

  • Victory
  • Protection
  • Rescue

Wisdom will give you victory over your enemies. Wisdom will protect you. And wisdom will rescue you. Isn’t that awesome? Think about it. Wisdom will let you destroy your enemies. It will keep you from bad situations. And if you get in a bad situation, it will get you out! If this girl had applied wisdom, she never would have let her friend in. But she did. Okay. So now, if she’d apply it, there were so many opportunities to fix it and kick her friend out and call her parents to admit her mistake. Did I mention her mom called her at least three times? She lied to her mom on two occasions. The third one she didn’t accept the call. Wisdom keeps us from making mistakes and helps us solve them, but only if we apply it. Honesty is a part of wisdom, too. It is not wise to lie to your parents, especially if you’re doing something wrong. It is not wise to lie to your spouse, especially if you messed up. It is never wise to lie to God. Let me give you a hint: you can’t. Some people still try it. Wisdom serves (according to my Bible) as a roadmap. It directs you. So where does wisdom come from? God. Proverbs 2:6, “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding”. God gives us wisdom. We just need to apply it.

Transparency is Protection

This post is about transparency, and in order to write about it requires me to be real with you guys. I refuse to write about something I’m not willing to put into practice. So I’ll put it out there now: I struggle with masturbation. Obviously I struggle with other things too, but the one I keep failing in without seeming to make any significant progress is masturbation. I don’t remember when I started. I remember reading things I wasn’t supposed to in seventh grade. Maybe it started in ninth grade; I know I was sinning in that area through tenth. But when I first started, I told a close friend about it – close enough that we call each other sisters. I was trying to gain an accountability partner in order to stop. It didn’t work out quite like that, but that’s not the point of this story. A while later – in tenth grade – I told another close friend who isn’t a Christian. It came up in an indirect manner. I had refused to do something or said something and my friend asked why. I chose to be real – to be transparent – with her. I told my mentor. Shortly after that my parents found out, which I still kinda wish they hadn’t.This year, I’ve told two more people – a Christian who was falling away from the faith and a strong Christian friend (a.k.a my friend with the nonprofit). And now I’m writing it here, on my blog.  I told the first person this year because they told me they admired my “strong” faith; I wanted them to realize I was human. People I identify as having a strong faith have always seemed like superhumans to me, like they’re at a height I could never reach. I never want someone to look at me and see me as better than them or more christian-like. Obviously I have my share of struggles. I’m human, nothing more. The second person I told as a conscious attempt to open myself up. But what I want to get at I just realized recently, in talking with that very first friend I told.

She told me she hadn’t understood why I had told the second friend. It took me a while to tell her, and it seemed like I told the second friend so quickly, even though I hadn’t yet known her for two full years. My explanation was a thought that had been half-forming in the back of my mind for several days. So I told her I was trying to be transparent. In telling all these people, my goal at the time may have been to be real and human and approachable (I’ve said I have trouble making friends, right?) but now it’s about transparency. I read a lot of books, and in so many of them trouble arises because of secrets. I generally have a very limited enjoyment of these books because I know what’s going to happen and I know it’s going to cause problems (with a few exceptions, like Tamora Pierce’s books Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen). It’s hard for authors to write a timeline like that well. And it’s hard because it’s so predictable. That secret will get them in trouble. How do they not realize this!? Yet for some reason, they keep it. The most enjoyable books are the ones where the character is actively striving to destroy whatever is making them keep this secret; the ones that refuse to be blackmailed. I know it happens in real life, too. As I tell the people close to me, I am making this secret less and less of a weapon as it becomes less and less of a secret. Proverbs 2:12-15 says “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.” Is telling people wisdom? I don’t know. But if it helps keep the men described in this passage from being able to manipulate me even once, then it works, right? Luke 8:17 says “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” By telling people now of my own volition, I’m saving myself a lot of pain and embarrassment later. One more thing.

Luke 8:17 is in the section of passage that compares believers to lamps on a stand.. The full passage reads “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” We are supposed to be lamps on a stand. We are supposed to be the lights of the world. That is done most effectively not when we’re perfect (’cause we’re not; it’s a lie and people know it) but when we are real about our sin. It isn’t when we say we have no sin, but when we admit we have sin and say it has no real power over us because we are in Christ Jesus. It’s when we admit that we’re human and show people that we are different because of Christ. Maybe telling people has been easier for me because I have an awesome support group that’s willing to help me and not judge me. But you know what? So often sin has power because it’s a secret. How much more would the church open up if they started sharing the burden of their sin instead of shouldering it alone? Every person you tell takes a little bit of power away from that sin and makes it more and more unwieldy for the devil until he can’t use it against you. Being transparent protects us. And what shines brighter – a flame with a colored cover or a flame with a clear cover?

 

Okay. So maybe this post scares people off. Being transparent does that sometimes. It lets God shine through a little more and draws them in a little more and weirds them out a little more. It’s another way of being different. Secrets are a burden on people. Some people are like “No secrets? Oooh, shiny! Me want!” and others are like “What is that disgusting creature get it away from me why is it so fascinating” but either way it makes us stand out. Sorry if you think it’s too forward, but that’s what this blog is. But please don’t think it’s too forward because I already told my dad-mentor (new name for him. I like it) that I had one follower (hi!). And this post may have rambled a little bit, and I am sorry for that. Welp, that’s all! Bye!